Brent Huffman is a documentary filmmaker and assistant professor at Northwestern University. His article “The Fate of Mes Aynak” (page 64), chronicles the fate of an ancient Buddhist city in Afghanistan that sits above a copper mine worth billions. Huffman first traveled to Mes Aynak in the summer of 2011 to document the ancient city before its imminent destruction by Chinese mining companies. “I quickly fell in love with this miraculous and awe-inspiring place,” Huffman says, “so in addition to making the film, I began a campaign to save the site.” Later that year, Huffman partnered with the Alliance for the Restoration of Cultural Heritage (ARCH) to spread awareness about the destruction of Mes Aynak.
Marie Myung-Ok Lee, a Korean-American raised as a practicing Christian, chronicles her journey to Buddhism and embracing her “mixed-breed spirituality” in “Losing My Religion” (page 42). A Fulbright Scholar in Korea, Lee was awarded the prestigious MacColl Johnson Fellowship in 2011 and a 2010 Rhode Island State Council on the Arts fiction fellowship. Her fiction has appeared in The Kenyon Review, TriQuarterly, Witness, and Guernica, and her essays in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Independent, Slate, and Salon. A regular contributor to The Atlantic, Lee teaches creative writing at Brown and Columbia. Her next novel, First-Born Son, is due from Simon & Schuster in 2014.
Michal Przedlacki, a photographer and humanitarian aid worker, documented the archaeological work at the ancient Buddhist city of Mes Aynak in Afghanistan. His photographs accompany Brent Huffman’s article in this issue (“The Fate of Mes Aynak,” page 64). While based in Afghanistan, Przedlacki also contributed to NPR’s Picture Show, National Geographic’s Czech edition, Newsweek’s Polish edition, and Witness Journal. Currently, he is head of People in Need’s mission in Aleppo, Syria, where PIN is the only non-governmental humanitarian organization supplying critical aid to more than half a million residents of the war-torn city.
Photograph of Marie Myung-Ok Lee by Karl Jacoby; photograph of Brent Huffman by Frank Petrella.